training theory


Recently, the buzzwords in animal training and welfare are choice and autonomy. The thinking is that the more animals have control over their own lives, the healthier they’ll be emotionally and physically. Certainly, giving the animal an environment in which they can choose their level of comfort – shady or […]

Choice and Autonomy


I am writing this while looking out at the Atlantic Ocean from my room at the Yankee Clipper Inn. I am here for two days with my good friend, Karen Pryor. A couple of times a year we go on these writing retreats. We hole up in our separate rooms […]

Don’t Clicker Train Your Horse. Yet.


Riding instructors talk a lot about aids – how you use your hands, seat and legs – to communicate what you want to the horse. I’d add another aid, and to me it’s at least as important as the others. Your eyes. Do this. Right now, look to the right. […]

Look, Focus, and Go



For Tonka, 2017 was year of symptoms but no definitive diagnosis. It started with a slight head shaking. Then his back hurt. Then Tonka felt great and we had some rides where he did brilliant first level work. Then he couldn’t bend his neck. Then his back was sore again. […]

Getting Moving


I recently had to rework some sloppy training on my part. It took me awhile to notice that I’d let things slip. Tonka is a calm and amenable gelding. But even a horse like that is always adjusting their behavior to what their human is doing. Just because you’ve taught […]

Reworking Sloppy Training


All horses can potentially cause injury to us humans. Their vision, hearing and smell keeps them hyper-aware of danger, and their response to that is to put distance between themselves and the perceived threat. If prevented from fleeing, they will rear, kick and strike-out. Horses are especially wary of new […]

Desensitizing and Counter-Conditioning Horses



As I’ve written about before, Tonka and I have been walking. Mostly, we’ve been in the covered arena, on safe footing, and sheltered from bitter cold winds. Two weeks ago, during a break in the weather, we managed to get down the road a bit. Tonka was on alert, but […]

Barn Sour Drama


The stuff that a horse wears is called tack. Most tack is used either to control the horse, or to keep the rider on. What style of riding you do, what breed of horse you ride, your skill, the horse’s level of training, and your budget, determines what you put […]

Bit or Bitless?


Tonka and I have been going for walks.   The walking is in addition to riding. Although Tonka is turned out during the day, he doesn’t move much. Not in the snow. Not when hay is right at his feet.   A horse is designed to eat and move. Bite. […]

Walking With My Horse